23.05.2015 - 23.05.2015
We started of today at about 9.00am and finished the day at about 11.30pm. We had a wonderful day. My big regret is that I did not take Hope to Rome rather than Paris in May 2013. I think Hope would have loved Rome. It is a wonderful city – full of ancient ruins, old buildings and wonderful history. There is a romance to it – little narrow cobble stone streets, little restaurants and a lot of Church buildings – mainly Roman Catholic. When I was in Paris I was very conscious that I did not speak French – in Italy the fact that I don’t speak Italian hardly mattered.
We started walking and walked through the markets along the colonnade of the Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II and then along Via Cavour. The buildings are so different quite Italian and there are so many old ruins. The first formal ruins we came to were the Forum of Nerva (completed AD 97), then the Forum of Trajan (completed AD 113). These are ruins but a lot of structures still stand. In this area we came across Trajan’s Column which celebrated Trajan’s victory in the Dacian Wars. The column is covered in engravings which spiral up the column to the top - quite fascinating. The intriguing thing is that a statue of Peter stands on the top of it. You can see that it is Peter because he holds two keys. I found out that Pope Sixtus V crowned the column with a statue of Peter in 1587. It seemed to proclaim that Trajan won this great victory for Rome but Peter inherited it all (referring to the conversion of Rome to Christianity). That is my take on it. Nearby is the magnificent Altar of
Travel Log – May/June 2015
the Fatherland (completed in 1925) which contains Italy’s tomb of the Unknown Soldier. It is quite a sight to behold.
We had breakfast in a very nice café – as you expect in Rome the service was friendly making it a comfortable experience. We had pastry and coffee (very nice). We then came to Santa Maria in Vallicella. It is a church building dating from the Counter Reformation. We went in – the interior was filled with paintings on the ceiling and around the walls and beautiful sculptures. I found that these churches impart a very powerful sense of the difference between heaven and earth. Earth is chaotic and full of suffering and injustice but heaven is full of holiness and peace – but heaven views the sufferings of earth with compassion and understanding – Christ came to earth to bring redemption and the Church now stands between as an instrument of grace. Bill took lots of photos. We passed another church building a little further along. It was a church dedicated to John the Baptist (San Giovanni dei Fiorentini) – by contrast internally it was bare of the art and sculptures.
We continued our journey and crossed the Tiber River (fast flowing with quite a bit of water). The view from the bridge was impressive. You could see the ancient Castel Sant’Angelo (Castle of the Holy Angel) - it originates from the days of Emperor Hadrian.
We then came to Via della Concilazione which leads up to St Peters. Now here was sight which was most impressive. Up until this time we had not seen many people – but now we came to crowds of tourists.
St Peters Square is a big plaza surrounded by two great arms of colonnades (apparently representing the arms of the Church which are open to all). The colonnades are lined with statues of saints which seem to look down on the crowds – I got this great sense of history looking down on us. There is an immense sense of history in this place. We joined a long queue which ran around the square – it was about 750 meters long (maybe a kilometre). It was a very orderly and amiable queue. We stood in the queue for about 2 hours – but in view of the surroundings and the crowds of people I did not feel frustrated in any way. The Lord, John and Baptist and the 11 faithful apostles line the top of St Peters – so you feel them looking down on you. When you get to the end of the queue and past security the same as airport security) you finally get into the Church. Inside it is overwhelming when you see the sculptures, paintings, the great pillars, the marble floor and ceiling etc. It is a vast church. I think it would be beyond the capacity of present day society to construct such a building with the materials and art etc. A trumpet ensemble was practicing while we walked through – this added to the sense of awe. Again I felt this great sense of the difference between heaven and earth but how that the grace of God comes down to us in our struggles. One painting of the transfiguration really conveyed this sense. In the upper level of the painting there was Jesus dressed in blue (the colour of heaven) with Moses and Elijah, then in the middle were the sleeping disciples with one just waking from sleep (the imperfect church which stands between) and then below them the crowds with the demon possessed boy. Despite the crowds of people in the Church there was a quiet atmosphere.
We came out of the church and made our way back over the Tibor. We walked along the narrow streets and found and restaurant where we had lunch. We all had pasta dishes – it was very nice and very busy. The Italians have a very good way of dealing with business in a relaxed way – it makes you feel relaxed as well. We walked through Rome and enjoyed its piazzas, churches and other famous buildings. We passed the Pantheon (an ancient Roman building). The Piazza Novena is very
Travel Log – May/June 2015
impressive. It was crowded and full of activity. It started to rain and we went into a Church fronting the piazza - Sant’Agnese in Agone - (dedicated to Agnes, a young woman who was martyred in AD 304). Beautiful sculptures adorned the church. We enjoyed this respite from the rain.
We got back to our apartment at about 5.30pm and had a welcome.
We went out again at about 8.00pm and walked to the Colosseum. Bill wanted to take photos of this great old building from ancient Rome. We then went Trattoria Luzzi a restaurant near the Colosseum. It is so popular that we had to wait for 45 minutes to get seated. By now it was about 10pm. It is so busy and vibrant. It was enjoyable just sitting and watching the waiters rushing around in their very relaxed way. The manager of the restaurant would burst into song every now again but kept a close eye on everything. We all had pizza for our meal – very nice. A great experience.
Finally we got back to the apartment at about 11.00pm.